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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
Old Manga Will Not Stop Kicking Your Ass 
24th-Sep-2008 03:57 pm
When I posted some scans from Noboru Ohshiro's Kasei Tanken back at the beginning of the month, I promised to scan pages from another Ohshiro manga. Then I got distracted by yarn and brightly-colored scraps of paper for about three weeks. But here it is at last: Yukaina Tekkôsho!

As I mentioned last time, I can't read Japanese and am comically under-qualified for my job as a manga editor. Matt Thorn translates the title as The Delightful Steel Mill, which is probably the best translation, but I kind of prefer the translation one of my Japanese coworkers at Viz offered, The Happy Cog Factory. It appears to be a loosely-connected string of adventures had by the inhabitants of a cartoonist's studio, mainly his Snowy-like talking dog and a pair of Mutt-and-Jeff-like cartoon characters who come to life.

I am unable to determine much of the plot beyond that, save that it incorporates the following elements:



A put-upon mouse!

A drawing of a hot-air balloon that rises from the paper and takes our heroes on a magical journey!


Seriously. This is Toontown, right? Anyway, it leads into the best section of the book, wherein the cartoon fellows visit a robot factory staffed with anthropomorphic animals who teach them true facts about smelting. This involves...

Robot disguises!

Monkey steelworker!

And, best of all...a totally boss giant robot, I mean, look at this sucker and tell me it isn't the awesomest thing you have ever seen.

Japan spent the next 70 years trying to come up with a better giant robot and failing.

I am so in love with Ohshiro. Fortunately, Matt Thorn has been kind enough to post scans from Ohshiro's third masterpiece, Kisha Ryokô (Train Journey), on his blog. And just to show me up, he followed it up with scans from another classic manga, The Adventures of Little Shô, written by Shôsei Oda and drawn by Katsuichi Kabashima. Go! Look! Enjoy!

Long live old manga!

25th-Sep-2008 01:53 am (UTC)
That is way cool. I am absolutely in love with that last picture!

It's such a shame older works like this aren't more appreciated. =(
25th-Sep-2008 02:42 am (UTC)
25th-Sep-2008 09:51 am (UTC)

The amazing thing is that, at the time this was published, Herge hadn't even developed his clean-line style yet. He and Ohshiro must have been influenced by the same trends in book illustration.
25th-Sep-2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
Whoa. I had not realized the timing was thus. The echoes in that last scan in particular (and his little white terriers, of course) really jumped out at me. There's no chance of influence having flowed the other way, is there?
25th-Sep-2008 03:13 am (UTC)
That is exactly how a foundry pours cast parts, except for the monkey. ;)
25th-Sep-2008 03:55 am (UTC)
Well, there's grease monkeys, so why not cast monkeys?
25th-Sep-2008 05:07 am (UTC)
Matt Thorn here. Great scans, Shaenon. The story begins with a manga artist trying to come up with an idea for his next manga. He goes to do research on a steel mill, gets a little tour, and ups receiving a puppy to take home with him. He comes up with the protagonists--Professor Kankara and his son, Testuo, tells the puppy he'll be joining them in the manga, then heads off to bed. The main body of the manga is a dream sequence. Although most is pure fantasy, as you noted it also includes descriptions of how iron is cast, etc. It ends when the characters fall into the giant in-ground mold used to make the massive bronze statue of them, and the manga artist wakes up. (He's obviously a big "Little Nemo" fan.) The artist then tells the reader it was such a fun dream, he decided to simply draw the whole thing as a manga.
25th-Sep-2008 05:08 am (UTC)
Oops. Forgot to mention that Ohshiro actually worked in a steel mill when he was young, and that his depictions are based on that experience.
25th-Sep-2008 05:36 am (UTC)
wow that is really cool =D
I need to read better/more manga than just bleach.

also, after re-reading the archives I have drawn more skinhorse fanart for you

please excuse the gratuitous artist comment profanity.
25th-Sep-2008 09:44 am (UTC)

Omigosh, the D of I! May I run this on a Sunday?
25th-Sep-2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
please do!
Actually also have another one, which I just finished or it would be in the first post.

26th-Sep-2008 12:18 am (UTC)

Holy crap, it's Nick! Aw, I love that angry little guy...
26th-Sep-2008 12:49 am (UTC)
yay! I hope I got the semi-unibrow (demibrow? mostly-brow?) right.

I hope we will eventualy get to see what happened to him. that vvvvvvping was quite ominous.
26th-Sep-2008 06:39 am (UTC)

Oh, Nick will most certainly be back. I can't make any promises about the unibrow.
25th-Sep-2008 06:30 am (UTC)
The colors in this are just beautiful. I'm still new to manga - started looking and reading after I found Smithson and your LJ. Is this really old? I have no idea how long the format has been around.
25th-Sep-2008 06:31 am (UTC)
btw I love your icon!
25th-Sep-2008 09:47 am (UTC)

Ohshiro's three classic manga were published in the early 1940s. They're among the first graphic-novel-length manga. Matt Thorn has a lot more info on early manga on his blog.
31st-Dec-2008 02:04 pm (UTC) - Matt Thorn here, again
Dying to have the original edition rather than a reprint? Now's you're chance! Bidding starts at a mere 100,000 yen ($1100 U.S., as I type).
If I was rich, I'd bid on this in a heartbeat. But even little stapled comics by Ohshiro from the 40s and 50s go for outrageous prices.
31st-Dec-2008 02:06 pm (UTC) - Re: Matt Thorn here, again
Damn. An embarrassing grammatical error posted to the blog of an editor. That's "your chance," not "you're chance." (-_-;)
31st-Dec-2008 07:27 pm (UTC) - Re: Matt Thorn here, again

Oh, man, that's awesome.
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